Pitt Legend, NFL Hall of Famer Rickey Jackson Graduates in Pitt’s Class of 2023
Rickey Jackson can call himself a lot of things. An All-American at Pitt, a Pro Bowl, All-Pro, Super Bowl-champion linebacker with the New Orleans Saints and a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
But now he can proudly say he’s a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh. Jackson, who left Pitt after the 1980 season to pursue his NFL dreams, returned to Pittsburgh to graduate with Pitt’s class of 2023 at the age of 65.
Jackson graduated with a degree in social sciences from the College of General Studies.
“My mother would’ve loved it, my father wanted me to get it,” Jackson told PittWire. “I know they’d be proud of me.”
— Rickey Jackson ⚜️ (@Rickey57Jackson) May 8, 2023
Jackson was an All-American in the 1980 season at Pitt, forming a star-studded core with Dan Marino, Russ Grimm, Jimbo Covert, Hugh Green and Mark May, on a team that went 11-1 and closed the season second in the nation.
In four seasons at Pitt from 1977-80, Jackson racked up 290 tackles (166 solo), 21 sacks, three interceptions and four pass breakups as one of the most dominant defenders in college football.
The New Orleans Saints selected Jackson with the 51st pick in the 1981 NFL Draft (a second-round selection), and he spent 13 seasons with the Saints, earning six Pro Bowl nods and five All-Pro honors. He played two seasons for the San Francisco 49ers after 13 seasons in New Orleans, retiring after the 1995 seasons.
In 15 seasons, Jackson racked up 1,180 tackles, 135 sacks, 40 forced fumbles and 29 recoveries and eight interceptions, and he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010. But graduation is special.
“I’d put it up with the Super Bowl and all,” Jackson said. “This is something I achieved personally on my own, so I’d put it right up with that.”